Peter 'Fish' Case: When the music speaks to you, listen


Full disclosure, I saw the movie "Bohemian Rhapsody" on opening night, which is the motivation for this column.

I'm a classic rocker through and through. I was raised with the likes of Led Zeppelin, Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd, AC/DC, Black Sabbath, Aerosmith, Pink Floyd, Jethro Tull, The Beatles and of course Queen. The music that came into my youth that helped mold me goes well beyond those bands I named; it goes way deeper and is far too vast to list here. Zeppelin was my music drug of choice; I worshiped the very ground these guys played on. I owned every poster, every album, every bootleg, every book and every nick knack that adorned their name. I can still remember my friend stealing "Zeppelin IV" from his older sister and we sat in his room and tracked it (for those of you not old enough, that means we play the first four songs, then flipped over the vinyl and played the second four songs). My friend was in love with "Stairway to Heaven," for me it was "When the Levee Breaks."

As I did a deep dive at the local record shop, I found there were six total Zeppelin albums at the time and I bought them all! My mother was fairly upset that I spent over $50 on all of them, but I didn't care, I was in love! "Zeppelin I" is where I started; my favorites were "You Shook Me" and "I Can't Quit You Baby" written by a guy that wasn't in the band, Willie Dixon. But as I tracked every one of those albums, I began to read all the liner notes and song credits to all songs, not just Zeppelin's. The Stones had several songs not written by band members, guys like Chester Burnett and McKinley Morganfield. I would discover in college that these guys were better known as Howlin' Wolf and Muddy Waters and they were blues artists. So, Rock and Roll also handed me the blues.

Music is supposed to speak to you and make you feel something. Zeppelin, AC/DC and Van Halen were always go-to pump-up bands. If I needed to mellow out, I would lean on Fleetwood Mac or Pink Floyd. If I was cruising around with my boys, you know Bob Seger or the Kinks were with us. We had a band for everything. We always prided ourselves in listening to everything that wasn't disco; we craved that different sound: The Cars, Grateful Dead, Deep Purple, Rush, Dire Straits. We wanted those bands that didn't always fit the norm but could speak to you and make you feel something. The first time I heard "Seven Bridges Road" by the Eagles the harmony stopped me in my tracks. When you hear it and it hits you like that, there are very few feelings that can replace it.

One day while hanging out in one of my friend's room listening to what I'm sure was Zeppelin, his older brother kicked the door in and questioned all of our masculinities and sexual orientations. He then proceeded to pull "A Night at the Opera" by Queen out of his backpack, threw it at us and said, "This is music boys, this will change your life." After he left, we called him every name in the book, but then we tracked the album and once again it spoke to us. We immediately made our way to the record store and found "News of the World," which cemented our love for the band Queen.

I know what you're thinking: Fish! Where's the Eric Clapton, the Stevie Ray, The Who, Neil Young, Heart? They were all there helping get through good times and bad times (a really good Zeppelin tune, by the way). But my musical taste library runs really, really deep. I guess in another column I can talk about the likes of Louis Armstrong, Billie Holiday, Oscar Peterson, who my aunt did work for and in turn she gave me that gift. I guess I can just leave you with this: When the music speaks to you, listen. While you're listening, don't forget to give a special nod to older sisters, musical aunts and of course older brothers no matter how mean they can be.

Peter "Fish" Case is a man with an opinion. He offers up a weekly podcast discussion that can be heard at Questions, compliments and complaints can be sent to him at The opinions expressed by columnists do not necessarily reflect the views of the Brattleboro Reformer.



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